Our fabulous kitty
7:00 AM in New York City
And this… this one’s for you, Brenda
What makes you happy?
Our fabulous kitty
7:00 AM in New York City
And this… this one’s for you, Brenda
What makes you happy?
About nine months ago I read this post from E. click ‘here‘. It’s about her cat M. (I just loved she chose to keep him anonymous!) When I found E.’s blog The Third Glance I went to the beginning and read every single post she’d written. She was fairly new to the blogging world and so it was relatively easy to read all her posts in a few days. I sent Richard the link to My Cat is My Hero because we have a black cat also with a name starting with the letter M. Also from a rescue shelter and also a pet that we absolutely adore. Unlike E.’s cat however, Merlin announces his presence to anyone who is capable of bending down to pet him. He demands attention and shamelessly pursues anyone who seems remotely willing to give him his due.
Prior to Merlin, Richard was a self-proclaimed “dog man”. He explained to me patiently that he did not particularly like cats, that given his preference he would surround himself with dogs. In fact, Richard, when I brought up the idea of getting a cat after the children kept asking for one, said to me, “If you care about me and our marriage, you will not bring this up again.” To which I replied, “I do care about you and our marriage.” And the subject was dropped. (By me.) However that did not hold for Nic and Emma. They brought the subject up repeatedly (and I did nothing to discourage them, though I will deny this to Richard, even after he reads this here, I’m still going to deny it.) And finally when Emma said, in a particularly adorable and sad voice, “Bring kitty home?” while at our weekly trip to the pet store, Richard said, “What do you think about getting a cat?” To which I casually replied, “Oh, good idea.” Eye roll and the slightest of smirks.
When we arrived at the pet store we explained that the cat we were looking for would need to be comfortable with children and loud music. One of the employees brought over a rust colored cat whom he assured us loved being held and was a “lap cat”. He was adorable, but Richard looking slightly ill, leaned over as I held the kitty in my lap and whispered, “We are not getting that cat, he looks like liverwurst.” ”He does not Dad!” Nic cried. But Richard stood firm. We continued to view the dozens of cats and then Nic said, “Mom. Look at this one!” And there he was, black as chimney soot, green eyes calmly staring at us, he even swaggered as he made his way over to us. I had been reading Temple Grandin’s book, Animals Make Us Human and had made a mental note about her suggestion that black, male cats were often calmer and she advised gently putting the cat on his back with a light hand on his belly to see what he would do. If he bit or clawed or panicked, he was probably not the right cat for a family with children, but if he was calm, he was, most likely ideal. I did as suggested and Merlin purred, relishing in the attention, then righted himself when he’d had enough and wandered over to Emma, who began to pet him.
Both Nic and Emma expressed their approval and after the lengthy intake process where we had to present referrals and swear to uphold a lengthy list of requirements such as promising not to declaw him, take him regularly to the vet, etc we were allowed to bring Merlin home. Though there was an anguished moment when Nic asked Richard, “Dad, aren’t you so excited?” And Richard said loudly, “Yeah, right Nic. I am NOT excited to have this animal come home with us.” Meanwhile the manager of the shelter was standing behind Richard looking none too pleased. It was one of those moments when I thought our plans to adopt were dashed and Merlin would not be released to us after all. But even with Richard’s ill-timed, less than enthusiastic response, within hours Merlin was home and strutting about as if he owned the place and by the second day was scaling the curtains, climbing to the highest places he could find, walking like a tightrope walker along the curtain rods and then leaping down on top of us, much to our terror.
Despite all of this, or perhaps because of it, Richard began to soften. Merlin being the brilliant cat that he is, immediately began following Richard around as though he were a faithful hound and NOT a cat at all. Within a week Richard was speaking to him and by the end of that first month it was clear Richard had succumbed to Merlin’s charms. In addition to all of this there were sightings by Nic of him using the toilet to pee and it was also around this time that Merlin taught us to play fetch with him, which sealed the deal for Richard who now cannot be away from Merlin for more than a few hours before mentioning him.
Please enjoy this video, shot by the ever adoring, Richard just last week while I go brine our turkey.
6:03AM – Our bedroom
Em: Hi Mommy!
Me: Hi Emma!
Em: It’s six zero three.
Me: You’re awesome. Merlin comes over in all his silky, soft adorableness. Aww… Look Em. It’s the kitty. He is so soft!
Emma smiles at me. But makes no attempt to pet him and he’s rubbing his body against her.
Me: Emmy, look at the kitty. He’s so soft! I stroke Merlin, who begins purring loudly. Emma begins to hum a little song.
Me: Em! Come on! Pet Merly. He’s such a good kitty. I say this as I stroke Merlin who walks lazily passed Emma towards the end of the bed.
Em: Oh! Oh! I can’t reach! I can’t reach the kitty! She says this while in an exaggerated display, extends her arm as though she were trying to pet Merlin. He is, in fact, within reach.
Richard begins to laugh.
Me: Emmy! You can too reach him! Now Richard and I are both laughing.
Em: Huge grin and with feigned sadness says - Oh no. I cannot reach the kitty. I can’t pet him. Awwww. I can’t pet Merly.
I love that kid.
7:30AM – In our study
Em: Mommy, I want you to help me brush my teeth please!
Me: Okay Em.
Me: (To Richard) I’m almost finished with this post. I’m keeping it short and sweet.
Richard: You mean like me.
I love that man.
I rarely have the opportunity to post anything about Merlin, our beloved kitty, because Emma routinely ignores him and this blog is about Emma and autism. Despite the fact we got Merlin because of increasing pleas from both children. Nic was lobbying for a dog, while Emma kept saying things like – “Go to pet store, pet the kitty?” and “go to animal shelter, bring kitty home?” Richard, a self-professed “dog man” was adamant – No CATS! As I too, much prefer dogs and felt his argument about the care required in having any animal was more than we should voluntarily take on, I agreed. However a few months later, Richard said, “Do you think we should get the kids a cat? Emma seems to really want one.” I smiled and tried not to nod my head too enthusiastically.
On the designated day, we went to the animal shelter together to choose a kitty. Several hours later we returned home with the aptly named Merlin. I went to the pet store to buy the essentials, including a soft cat bed (which he refused to sleep in.) Merlin, being a cat who knows a thing or two about survival, immediately glommed onto Richard as though he were the anchor to his ship. Wherever Richard went, Merlin was within a few feet. By the second day Richard was extolling Merlin’s virtues, by the third day it was all over, Merlin and Richard were inseparable, it was love. Ironically, the children, who after all were the ones vying for a cat to begin with, appear to have little more than a passing interest in Merlin. Emma continues to say, as we pass a pet store, “Go in and pet the kitty?” It seems she is only interested in petting other people’s cats, which we have found baffling.
Then this past weekend Emma found a stuffed cat I’d bought for the children after my cat Bertie of over twenty years, died.
“Oh Em! You found the kitty!”
“Yeah.” And for the rest of the morning Emma carried the kitty and her string with her wherever she went.
I keep hoping this affection for the stuffed kitty will translate to the real kitty, but so far it has not. Still, I can now post this adorable picture of Merlin, who has finally decided he likes his cat bed after ignoring it for two years. And who knows, maybe some day Emma will fall in love with Merlin just as the rest of us have.
For more on Emma’s journey through a childhood of autism, go to: www.Emma’s Hope Book.com
Our male black kitty, Merlin doesn’t get a lot of play on this blog. Mainly because Emma completely ignores him and so, try as I might, I rarely can figure out how to work him in to any posts since Emma’s the star of this blog. Every now and then I am able to squeeze in some random mention of him, such as these few posts: Do You Think She’s Okay? and Emma’s Photographs, but it’s really a cameo role he’s been relegated to, nothing close to what he deserves.
“Emma, Merlin’s sleeping in the rocking chair, don’t push him off,” Nic cried out last week as Emma tipped the rocking chair on end so he toppled to the ground. Where upon she happily occupied the rocking chair smiling to herself.
There’s a certain ruthlessness to Emma’s interactions with Merlin. And while she seems interested in our neighbor’s cat, Lester, asks to visit him and always requests visiting the cats and kittens in the pet store, she appears completely disinterested in Merlin.
“Go see Lester kitty?” Emma asked a couple of weeks ago.
“But what about our kitty?” Richard asked.
“Yeah, Em. What about Merlin kitty?” Nic chimed in.
“Go see Lester,” Emma said going to the front door as though this was just as good a time as any to pay him a visit.
“Em, we have to call Bob and Cynthia before we go visit. We can’t just go over there now,” I explained.
“Go see Lester kitty later,” Emma said.
“Yes. But we can play with Merlin now. Want to play with Merlin?” I asked.
“No,” Emma said matter-of-factly and walked away.
So when Emma and I were home the other day and Merlin jumped up onto his scratch post, I said, “Oh look, Emma! Merlie’s come to say hi!” When she turned to look at him I said, “I bet he’d love it if you pet him. He loves being pet.”
To my amazement she stroked his back while saying, “Merlie. Petting Merlie,” as I rushed for the camera. These are a little out of focus, okay, a lot out of focus because I was hurrying to capture the moment before Emma lost interest.
Merlin gets Emma’s attention
Finally, having waited so long…
Merlin was purring, he was so happy…
A final moment of affection between Merlin and Em
And then it was over. Who knows if she will revert back to ignoring him or callously pushing him off whatever surface he’s asleep on because she wants to sit there. Everything changes.
For more on Emma’s journey through a childhood of autism and Merlin’s cameo appearances, go to: www.EmmasHopeBook.com
“Should we put Emma in the washing machine?!” Emma asked, while pointing to the washing machine filled with clothing. Then before I could answer, she shouted gleefully, “NO!! We cannot put Emma in the washing machine!” At which point Emma began to laugh hysterically. “Should we put Mommy in the washing machine?” Emma asked, still laughing and pointing at me.
“Good idea, Em. But will I fit?” I asked.
“NO!” Emma shrieked with laughter. ”You cannot fit in the washing machine. Mommy’s too big!”
“But maybe I could squeeze inside if I scrunched down into a teeny little ball,” I said, sucking my cheeks in and curling my arms up next to my sides.
“NO!” Emma shouted. “You cannot fit inside the washing machine. Emma’s too big!”
“Emma’s too big? Or Mommy’s too big?” I asked, laughing along with her.
“Emma AND Mommy too big! We cannot put Emma in the washing machine,” Emma said.
This went on for quite some time, with me asking if we should put a whole variety of people in the washing machine: Daddy, Nic, Granma, Uncle Andy, Uncle Victor, Aunt Toni, Uncle Chris… the list went on.
Each time Emma would answer, “NO! We cannot put Nic in the washing machine. Nic is too big!” or “NO! We cannot put Daddy in the washing machine. Daddy’s too big!”
“What about Merlin? Should we put Merlin in the washing machine?” I asked, expecting the same answer from her.
But Emma surprised me by saying, “Yes.”
Taken aback I didn’t say anything for a second. Then I repeated, “We should put Merlin in the washing machine?”
“Yes!” Emma said.
“Are you sure?” I asked buying for time and trying to figure out how to save poor Merlin from such a murky fate.
“YES!” Emma shouted. “We can put Merlin in the washing machine!”
“Nooooooo! We cannot put Merlin in the washing machine,” I said.
Emma threw her head back and laughed and laughed. I don’t know that I have seen her derive so much joy from anything in days.